CLA call for more new homes in rural areas

A MAJOR report says new homes are urgently needed to keep rural communities alive.

“Tackling the Housing Crisis in England”, which has been published by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), has a raft of recommendations.

The Government estimates that at least 230,000 new homes a year will be needed to satisfy demand to 2020.

Dorothy Fairburn, CLA North regional director, said: “New homes are urgently needed to keep communities in the countryside alive.

“Without this housing, we will lose the young people and services needed to keep rural areas economically viable.

“More retirement homes are also needed in rural areas so older people can pass on farm holdings to the next generation.”

The report highlights a successful Northern Ireland policy which allows one new home to be built for retirement purposes within a single farm holding.

Both measures would help ease the tenancy logjam which is hampering the future of farming. The report also wants:

  • Changes to the tax regime which is currently seen as a block to new housing, particularly in the let sector
  • Private landowners encouraged to build affordable homes by broadening the type of provider accepted by councils
  • Recognition that landowners could pool their resources to speed up the creation of garden cities
  • Better and consistent advice from planning authorities
  • Exemption from Council Tax for vacant older buildings being brought up to minimum energy performance standards.

The report says well designed new housing should not be stopped by “spurious” conservation area status.

It suggests welfare reforms to extend the range of housing, including that where rural locations have a lack of one and two bedroom accommodation neither landlord nor tenant should be penalised through the bedroom tax.

On Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), it says the current rating is designed for modern properties and is not suited to traditional properties without cavity walls.

Solid wall insulation should be excluded as a “Green Deal Measure” until appropriate technologies are developed for traditional properties.

Miss Fairburn said: “Our recommendations reflect a vision where you no longer have to live in an urban location to work effectively.

“In conjunction with improvements to transport policy and rural broadband delivery, our proposals will help to level development land values across the country.”

Alnwick-based landowner Mark Bridgeman chairs the CLA’s national housing working group and was closely involved in the development of the new policy document.

He said: “How the Government delivers housing supply is crucial to a range of inter-connected issues including the north-south divide, an ageing population and an economy that is still recovering from the global financial crisis.”

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